SPORTS: All Things Football

Written by Adam Stevens on . Posted in Sports

Holy smokes, people! It’s time for football! Since my last (and first) post, the Jazz have done nothing with Carlos Boozer and for good reason. I really hope I’m not the only one who thinks, and knows, that the Jazz are a much better team with him than without him. Let him leave after the season if he wants, but if the Jazz trade him they’ll be lucky to be the 8th seed in the west. They’d be lucky to be the 8th seed in the east. But I’m not talking Jazz or basketball today. I’m more excited for football this year than I ever remember being. And let me tell you, it’s not because I thought BYU would go undefeated and bust the BCS.  In fact, nobody had any reason to believe that they would. And so we’ve reached my first topic, apparently.

BYU football.  I love watching BYU’s offense, and occasionally they’ve been able to put a pretty good defense on the field but, from what I had been hearing through fall camp, the Cougars would be fielding Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee at cornerback, and their traveling mates Merry and Pippin at the safety positions. I heard one radio show caller who watched them practice refer to the defensive backs as “little piglets.” BCS, here we come! I sure wasn’t counting on it. I was 100% convinced that Oklahoma was going to wipe the floor with the questionable Cougar defense.

Personally, I wasn’t doubting BYU’s secondary because they were unknown. I merely questioned their ability to be shut-down defenders, because I’m quite certain BYU has never had a shut-down defensive back. Last season Oklahoma scored over 60 points in 5 straight games! Only thrice did they score less than 40, one of those times being a 35-10 win over TCU, another a 45-35 loss to Texas, and the other a 24-14 loss to Florida in the BCS title game. Oklahoma’s receivers were huge and fast — exactly the opposite of BYU’s defensive backs, who are always short and slow. But this time BYU went pound-for-pound and step-for-step with an Oklahoma offense that looked stagnant and timid. Sam Bradford was the unfortunate recipient of a beautiful pass-rush scheme that sent Coleby Clawson flying through the line of scrimmage untouched, ready to use Bradford as a tackling dummy.

The Cougars, despite four turnovers, ten penalties, and trailing the whole game, played tough and never quit. It was the relentless defense that seemed to inspire the brilliant fourth quarter scoring drive by the offense that consumed nearly nine minutes of the game clock. Max Hall was incredible on the drive and Dennis Pitta made huge catches to keep BYU in possession.  I had to laugh though when Mckay Jacobson caught the go-ahead touchdown pass, but didn’t quite realize what had just happened.  If you were to go back to watch a replay of the touchdown, Jacobson catches the ball then simply turns to walk toward the goal post and, after a couple steps, I think the magnitude of the play hit him and he began the fist-pumping and celebrating with teammates. Congratulations to the BYU Cougars for an incredible win.

I’ve already heard more than one nationally known sports commentator talk about BYU’s excellent chances of playing in the BCS National Championship game. I can smell the growing hype, but I won’t get too caught up in it. I offer fans this piece of advice: Like the players, take this season one game at a time. Florida State, TCU and Utah are going to be very difficult opponents. But should BYU run the table with this schedule, hello Pasadena.

Florida State looked beatable last weekend, even though they scored 34 points. The environment will be nothing short of an electrical storm and the Cougars will be eager to put on a show for the home fans. BYU should win. A lot of people seem to be assuming that because TCU comes to Provo this year, BYU will win.  Before Saturday, I didn’t see any reason why TCU can’t handle BYU the same way they did last year. They’re almost exactly the same team, and they’ve got the best shot of anyone in the MWC to go undefeated this year. They’ve got weaker non-conference opponents than BYU, but going undefeated puts them in the BCS. TCU was able to dominate BYU last year because of their ability to spread the defense. When TCU came out with four or five receivers, the Cougar defense was lost. Utah possesses that same ability. Realistically, BYU still has three scary games on the schedule. Luckily, they’re all home games. The rest of the conference games should be fairly easily won.

Speaking of Utah, I was excited to see who ended up being Utah’s full-time quarterback. A true freshman in Jordan Wynn and JC transfer Terrence Cain have been battling it out since the spring and, while Wynn was named first string going into fall camp, Cain was named the starter to open the season against Utah State. Certain logic would say that if the race is this close when there’s a freshman involved, you start the freshman and head straight ahead into the future. Others would say to start the guy who’s played some kind of college football before. Cain was very impressive in his Ute debut, completing, I believe, something like 20 of 30 passes for over 300 yards. I’m glad to see that there will likely be no quarterback shuffle at the U. There were a few seasons in which Utah was constantly making changes at quarterback, and from game-to-game nobody was sure who would lead the Utes on the field or how well that quarterback would perform.

I believe Kyle Whittingham will pick one guy and stick with him, barring a complete disaster two or three games into the season.  Even with a brand new quarterback, I believe the Utes will be right in the mix of the MWC championship race, although they probably won’t win it. Not til next year at least. Maybe. Either way, the Utes will probably continue to offer some high-flying offense, savagery on defense, and be just as exciting to watch as almost any spread offense in college football. I know I sure enjoyed watching them against the Aggies.

(As for those Aggies… Utah State looked intriguing. Their quarterback was actually quite awful, but the defense had such life and energy and they seem to be a much more proud organization. Keep an eye on the Aggies this season. They seem to have a bright future in the hands of Gary Anderson.)

It just so happens that I also love the NFL. I even enjoy everything that goes on during the offseason: Rookies, trades, free-agents, even new uniforms. By the way, the 49ers will be donning the uniforms of the glory days from now on, and I love it. Unfortunately, they will not have No. 10 overall draft pick Michael Crabtree, because he’s a baby and doesn’t think $20 million is enough money for him. I’m waiting for his head to pop out of his backside and announce “April fools,” even though it’s August. I would play football for $20 and he won’t play unless he gets more. If he doesn’t sign, he’ll be eligible to enter the NFL draft again next year. He can’t be stupid enough to think he’ll get drafted higher than tenth next year after not playing football for an entire year! Or can he be?

Now that I mention stupid — I heard a rather disappointing SportsCenter update on ESPN Radio a couple weeks ago. After several baseball scores, the person giving the update proceeded onto the NFL, stating something along the lines of “Tom Brady left tonight’s game against the Redskins with a sore shoulder after being hit by defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth.” (That is not a direct quote, but it’s the same general statement.) And that was it.  So, what I can take from that update is that, although it was just a meaningless preseason game, nothing from the game was even worth mentioning, including the score, besides poor li’l Tom Brady’s shoulder. I’ll bet Tom Brady didn’t even care about his shoulder “injury” as much as the ESPN people did. Perhaps it would have been more relevant had the injury been to the same foot that kept him on the sideline all of last season. I was just curious as to the outcome and maybe some statistics from that game. Can anyone help me out with that? Maybe I should try another sports network? By the way, Brady’s shoulder is fine.

Elsewhere in the NFL, Michael Vick is back in football after signing a deal with the Philadelphia Eagles.  I won’t say much about this, because my opinion is simple and I’m tired of hearing about it every day in sports talk radio. Michael Vick did horrible things to dogs and it makes me sick that so many are dead because of his dog fighting ring. But he took responsibility, served his prison sentence, apologized many times (whether or not I buy into the sincerity of said apologies is irrelevant), and now he is Donovan McNabb’s back-up. Hopefully everyone will stop talking about dog fighting and sit back to enjoy the dynamic he brings to the Eagles’ offense. He’ll play receiver on occasion, run some plays at quarterback and do anything else he’s asked, just to prove he wants nothing more than to win back any fans he most likely lost.

To that I say God bless you, Michael Vick, for picking yourself up after being in some serious dumps (although self-inflicted) and getting back out on the field to continue pursuing your lifelong dream of playing in the NFL. How many of us would assume that nobody would want us and not even try? I’m not calling Vick a hero; He’s not even a future Hall of Famer. I’m only saying I admire his drive to come back and face the NFL. Let’s hope his bad choices of such magnitude are behind him. It would be a shame for the league to lose such an exciting player for good.

And speaking of losing players — last but not least — I wish Brett Favre would go away. He needs to go find a cow to milk or some dudes in Wranglers to play mud-football with. I don’t think the Vikings are much better off with him. He’s thrown a ton of interceptions as of late and hasn’t been to a Super Bowl since 1997! Who is the guy telling the Vikings that Favre is a winner and that they can go all the way with him? After this season there won’t be such a guy, because he’ll get fired. I would like to quote a statement I’m just now making up in my head. “The last time Brett was in a Super Bowl was 12 years ago. He definitely knows how to win!” Somebody undoubtedly said something like that, and too many other people believed that person.

I’m not a Vikings fan, or even a fan of a rival team, so I don’t really care from that perspective. I’m just tired of so much attention being broadcast onto one super-old guy who blames every interception on his shoulder, instead of the fact that he dances in the pocket and throws off his back foot all the time. One day we will be free of Brett Favre, and he can go back to his Mississippi mansion and play catch with his late-20′s Wrangler buddies to pass the time until he enters the Hall of Fame. In the meantime, I would like to watch Jay Cutler, Aaron Rodgers, Kurt Warner, Matt Cassel, Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady, Philip Rivers and Peyton Manning. Some are the great ones of the present, others are the great ones of the future — and Brett Favre was the great one of 1996.

Get ready for football season, everyone. The collegiate season kicked off with a huge bang and the NFL is only a few days away. Football is electric, passionate, gut-wrenching and so fulfilling. Soak in all the action from the local teams, but awe at the true power and splendor from other football powers across the nation. You don’t know what you’re missing until you’ve tried it. I dare you to take a bite.  Good luck, and watch out for my article next April before the NFL draft, entitled “Michael Crabtree really is that stupid!”

Adam Stevens is an occasional sports correspondent for Rhombus. There’s nothing better than Brett Favre endorsing jeans sold exclusively at Wal-Mart. Pure class.

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